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Graphene based thermoplastic masterbatches for conventional and additive manufacturing processes

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Next-generation graphene-based materials for manufacturing production processes

An EU initiative sought to utilise the novel material known as graphene by taking it out of the lab and into the factory.

Industrial Technologies icon Industrial Technologies

This unbelievably slim material has caused a lot of excitement in the scientific community and industry since it was first separated from graphite in 2004. This enthusiasm is well deserved given that it is harder than diamonds and a hundred times tougher than steel, not to mention an excellent semiconductor. It has applications in numerous fields, including nanoelectronics, composite materials, molecular sensors, artificial muscle actuators and plastic polymers. The EU-funded NANOMASTER (Graphene based thermoplastic masterbatches for conventional and additive manufacturing processes) project set out to develop innovative polymers that slash the amount of plastic required to make a component by half. This will significantly reduce weight and improve environmental sustainability. Several different grades of graphene and expanded graphite were produced and tested in the lab. The influence of characteristics such as thickness, lateral size, bulk density and surface functionalisation on the subsequent properties of polymer nanocomposites containing these novel grades was examined. Production of the most promising grades was then up-scaled. Project partners aimed at better understanding the processing factors that influence the production of well-dispersed nanocomposites through twin screw extrusion. They also investigated the recyclability of expanded graphite-polymer compounds. The NANOMASTER team ultimately developed processes for large-scale rapid production of graphene, expanded graphite and nano-graphite, and machinery and processing methods designed for efficient high-throughput production of master batches and compounds. In addition, it developed material systems that can be integrated into current conventional and additive manufacturing processes rapidly, effortlessly and safely. By scaling up its production techniques, NANOMASTER will help to pave the way for a wave of potential applications. These include materials that are lighter, tougher and stronger than conventional plastics, while using significantly fewer raw inputs. The use of graphene will also open the possibility for developing plastics with novel properties such as better conductivity and fire resistance.


Graphene, manufacturing, graphite, polymers, NANOMASTER, nanocomposites

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